"Holding Hands"

Motomiya Daisuke slumped down on the rain-soaked steps in front of the school, feeling suddenly very old and very tired. He'd meant to go home; really he had. But somehow, something kept him from running any further away . . .

Mostly because it was raining really hard and he seriously doubted that he could even get home without an umbrella- or at least a decent jacket.

The burgundy-haired boy lifted a hand to his cheek; an ugly purple bruise was already beginning to mar the tanned skin and he winced when he touched it.

"Jerk," he muttered halfheartedly to the downpour surrounding him, but knew that he didn't mean it. Takeru had had every right to hit him- Hell, if Daisuke had been in the other boy's place, he would've given himself a one- way ticket to the emergency room.

But why did Takeru have to be so tense anyway?! It wasn't like he and Hikari were officially dating after all; what was wrong with letting Daisuke flirt with her a little? If Takeru hadn't gotten so mad about that, Daisuke would've never said those things to him . . . Harsh things that he didn't really mean and could take back later . . . Things that he secretly did and probably couldn't.

"Agh, he makes me so MAD!" Daisuke yelled, dropping his head into his hands and squeezing his eyes shut. "He's just one stupid guy! Why do I let him get to me like this?!"

"Maybe you could ask him sometime- Bet he'd love to know why you do the same thing to him," a dry voice commented as the rain suddenly seemed to quit.

"Eh?!" Daisuke's eyes snapped open and he jerked his head up to find himself under an umbrella and facing a very familiar face. "Ya- Yamato?!"

"Hey, kid." The tall blonde greeted him with a nod and Taichi Yagami leaned down from behind Daisuke to get under the large, colorfully striped umbrella that Yamato Ishida held.

"You are talking about T.K., right?" the wild-haired former goggle boy asked, running his fingers through his damp hair distractedly, as if trying to tame it. He quickly lost the battle with his rapidly frizzing mane and focused all of his attention on Daisuke instead. "Well?" he asked impatiently.

"Uh, yeah, I was," Daisuke replied hesitantly. For some reason, he suddenly felt a little embarrassed.

"Takeru's a good kid- and you guys have a lot in common," Yamato commented. "Why can't you get along?"

"The only thing I have in common with 'T.J.' is Hikari," Daisuke replied grumpily, crossing his arms over his chest.

"I don't know about that . . ." Taichi began.

"You both do everything with such passion," Yamato continued, as if he and Taichi shared the same thoughts. "Takeru is quieter than you, but he finds a similar oddly contented pleasure in the most everyday of things. And you- you're not as strategically minded as he is, but your plans still usually seem to work out more or less for the best . . . I could go on, if you'd like," he added.

"Can we just skip to whatever moral it is you guys are trying to get across?" Daisuke asked with a sigh. "I'm no good at figuring out the subtle stuff."

Taichi rolled his eyes but grinned good-naturedly at the younger boy. "Okay, Daisuke- The moral of today's story is that you and Takeru remind Yama and me of ourselves the first few times we were in the digital world."

"Of course we do, I look almost exactly like you- and Takeru's not exactly a far cry from being Yamato-sempai either," Daisuke muttered.

"That's not quite what he meant, kid," Yamato told him with an amused smile.

"Then what DO you mean?" Daisuke demanded hotly, glaring up at the other two.

Taichi grinned again and Yamato smirked slightly as they both reached out to muss up the younger Chosen Child's soggy hair.

"We'll tell you when you're older," Taichi promised, and it was then that Daisuke realized in surprise that Taichi and Yamato had been holding each other's hands for the entire conversation and neither seemed inclined to let go. They'd acted so natural about it that he hadn't even noticed.

"See you later, Daisuke. And get out of this rain before you freeze to death," Yamato told him. He gently pulled Taichi down the steps to his level and the other boy's grin widened, something strange sparking in both of their eyes.

Daisuke stared at them in utter bemusement for a moment before realizing with a jolt what it was. Even though it was a thing he'd never seen up close and personal before, it was still unmistakable.

That odd light in their expressions . . . that strange curve to their smiles . . .

It could only be love.

Daisuke watched the pair walk out of sight with a peculiar kind of wonder, strange thoughts fluttering through his mind and just as quickly leaving. But one stuck out among the many:

I think I might like . . . to hold Takeru's hand like that . . .

"Daisuke?" a hesitant voice asked suddenly; he half-turned and realized that Takeru was standing behind him, holding the door half-open.

Well, well, speak of the devil, Daisuke thought in amusement.

"I . . . I'm sorry I hit you like that," Takeru muttered, not meeting Daisuke's eyes.

Daisuke himself remained silent, carefully studying the other boy, who was starting to fidget a little.

"I- um, that is we- we were getting worried. And . . . I should never have gotten carried away like that, it was totally uncalled for!" Takeru blurted. "Will you please come back inside now? You'll get sick out here without a jacket." He smiled and finally looked up. "You can even flirt with Hikari if you want," he added softly in a weak attempt at levity. "I won't get jealous again."

"Actually, if it's all the same to you, I don't think I will," Daisuke replied quietly.

Takeru's face fell. "But- But you can't stay out in this mess!" he protested. "You'll get sick, or-"

Daisuke shook his head. "That's not what I was talking about," he corrected the other. "I meant to say that I'm not gonna chase after Hikari anymore. If you wanna be with her, then go for it. Or . . ." He hesitated for a moment; then leaned back and threw all caution to the wind- well, most of it anyway. "Or you could go for someone else," he finished.

Takeru fell silent for a moment. "Like who?" he asked finally.

"Like Miyako, or someone at school, or . . ." Daisuke hesitated again, biting his lip. What if he was doing this all wrong? Worse, what if he took this huge risk, and just wound up freaking Takeru out? Now that he thought about it, he really didn't know the other boy's opinions on this sort of thing. But Yamato was apparently seeing Taichi, and Takeru had never seemed very hostile towards either of them . . . unless he didn't know, of course, which seemed to be a likely possibility since he'd never mentioned anything . . . unless Yamato had asked him to keep it a secret . . .

This is getting you nowhere fast, Motomiya, Daisuke warned himself mentally. Just bite the bullet and spit it out! . . . That doesn't make much sense . . . Oh, for crying out loud! Can't you stay focused for five lousy seconds to tell the guy the way you feel?!

"Or who?" Takeru prompted curiously, stepping up next to him.

Daisuke looked up at his- Friend? Rival? Did it even matter anymore? - and swallowed hard. "Or maybe . . . me," he whispered, voice as dry as parchment.

The two just stared at each other for a moment that seemed to last an eternity, neither saying a word, one on the verge of panic and the other just looking startled.

"I- I'm sorry, I must've misheard you." Takeru laughed nervously. "It- It sounded like you said 'or maybe me'."

"That IS what I said," Daisuke said quietly.

Takeru sat down a bit too quickly, looking a little queasy.

Daisuke cringed and looked away from him. Please just let him let me down GENTLY! he silently begged whatever god was in charge of unrequited affection. I don't think I could deal with knowing that he hated me!

"Um . . . Daisuke, why . . ." Takeru trailed off almost immediately, then appeared to steel himself and began again: "But you always flirt with Hikari. We're both out here and well on our way to getting hypothermia BECAUSE you were flirting with Hikari. Why would you change your mind about everything from who you like to your sexuality after fifteen minutes in the rain?"

"It's not really changing my mind," Daisuke said softly. "I think . . . I think that I've always felt this way about you, but I never really 'got' it until tonight. And . . ." He hesitated. "This is gonna sound so weird . . ."

"Just spit it out," Takeru told him. "After all we've seen in the digital world, it can't be THAT weird."

"Well . . ." Daisuke continued after a moment. "I never really understood what the big difference between guys and girls was. I mean . . ." His cheeks reddened slightly. "I think that you're beautiful, and even if you were a girl, you'd still be beautiful. And you'd still have the same heart, wouldn't you? And you're supposed to love people for their hearts, not for their looks, right?"

"I . . . I don't know . . ." Takeru confessed slowly, bringing a half- clenched fist to his lips and blushing faintly. "I never really thought of it that way. I always thought that . . ." He caught himself and pressed his lips together. "Never mind."

"No, tell me," Daisuke insisted. "Please?"

"Well, okay . . ." Takeru gulped. "I- I- Ialwayslikedguysbetterthangirls!" he blurted, then, looking mortified, buried his face in his hands. "Sorry," he added in a small voice.

Daisuke rolled his eyes and swatted the blonde's hands down. "Didn't I just say that I don't care about that kind of thing?" he demanded.

"Well . . . yeah," Takeru admitted, looking a little sheepish. Daisuke chuckled and playfully pushed him. The pair fell silent after that and the only sound was that of the rain, which had lightened to little more than a mild drizzle.

"So . . . now what?" Daisuke asked finally. "I seem to remember it being your move . . ."

"Yeah . . ." Takeru said softly. "It was, wasn't it."

"Well?" Daisuke pressed, trying to keep the hopeful note out of his voice.

"Well . . ." Takeru trailed off, then suddenly smiled. "I think we could give it a try, don't you?"

Daisuke's eyes lit up. "Really?!" he asked excitedly. Takeru nodded, and for a moment the burgundy-haired boy thought that he was going to die of giddiness. "This is great, this is great, this is so great!" he said gleefully, and Takeru giggled.

Suddenly, the blonde's face fell. "Oh- but what about the others?" he said anxiously. "And I don't know what 'nii-san will say! What if he gets mad?"

Daisuke couldn't help but laugh as he grabbed the other boy's hand and pulled him to his feet. "Takeru, believe me- Yamato is so NOT going to have a problem with this!"